Posts Tagged ‘first amendment’

Gov. Brownback and the High School Kid

26 November 2011

I was just reading this, about Kansas governor Sam Brownback’s staff trying to get a high school student in trouble for tweeting bad things about him while she was on a field trip to Topeka. The student, Emma Sullivan, tweeted,

Just made mean comments at gov brownback and told him he sucked, in person #heblowsalot

She says she got hassled by her principal about it after the Brownback people tattled on her about the tweet. She also says she didn’t really say anything to Brownback.

Lest everybody overreact to the overreaction, it is not categorically out of line for a principal to scold a student for false public statements about students behaving inappropriately at school events, and rude comments to a public official or anyone else are not appropriate by most schools’ standards. Tweeting about it even though it didn’t happen is still a public relations problem for the principal.

The governor’s staff should, however, refrain from contacting schools about trivial misdeeds like this one tweet. The principal should clarify that his only concern was false and inflammatory information about what went on on the field trip, not whether students say unkind things about the governor on their own time or in an appropriate forum.

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